Brachial plexus injuries are some of the most common types of birth injuries, and are most often caused by medical negligence and careless mistakes. If your infant was negligently injured, you have the legal right and option to obtain a brachial plexus lawyer and file for damages.
Brachial Plexus Injuries and Complications
There are several types of brachial plexus injuries, including Erb’s palsy, Klumpke’s palsy, shoulder dystocia and more. Brachial plexus injuries are caused by when the brachial plexus, a network of fibers running from the spine and throughout the neck, arms, and armpits, is damaged, usually through improper and forceful pulling on an infant during delivery.
Most of the time, brachial plexus injuries occur during a stressful, difficult labor and delivery. The consequences of a brachial plexus injury can include a decreased grip in the hand of the side of the body affected, full or partial paralysis, a limp hanging arm on the injured side, a claw-like hand appearance, and a weak Moro reflex.
Treatment options for infant brachial plexus injuries include physical therapy, surgery (in severe cases and when physical therapy alone doesn’t work), and medication for pain relief. In some instances, none of the aforementioned treatments work successfully, leaving the baby with lifelong problems that can include full paralysis in the arm and hands on the affected side and/or long-term pain.
When to Speak to a Brachial Plexus Lawyer
If your feel your baby’s brachial plexus injuries occurred due to medical negligence, it’s important to speak to an attorney as soon as possible, and while the details are still fresh. A brachial plexus attorney will generally give you a free consultation and let you know if you have a valid case. When filing a case involving personal injury and medical malpractice, such as a brachial injury lawsuit, most states mandate that you must prove that:
- The defendant had a “duty of care” when the injury occurred, meaning the person you’re filing suit again was responsible for your infant’s medical care when the injury occurred
- The defendant breached the duty of care by inappropriate actions or lack of appropriate actions
- The breach of duty must have been what led to the infant’s injuries
Although it’s understandable that you may not want to take the time to speak with an attorney while worrying about caring for an injured infants, it’s important to do so before your state’s statute of limitations run out. Most states typically have a two-year statute of limitations for medical malpractice cases, but some states’ statute of limitations are only one year.
How to Find an Experienced Brachial Plexus Lawyer
Word-of-mouth still tends to be the most popular way in which people find legal representation, according to a 2011 study conducted by the American Bar Association (ABA). It’s always a good idea to ask friends and family for suggestions. Even if they do not know a brachial plexus, they still may be able to refer to a general practice attorney, and that attorney may then be able to refer to a brachial plexus lawyer.
In recent years, the Internet has become another popular way to seek legal representation, especially on sites that provide detailed information on the type of lawsuit that people are looking for. In fact, a Lexus Nexus study reveals that at least 57% of people seeking an attorney utilize the Internet, including social media, with Facebook as the top leader for social network referrals.
How to Choose an Experienced Brachial Plexus Lawyer
It’s always a good idea to shop around for an attorney instead of settling on the first one you find. While looking for and interviewing attorneys, you should narrow down your search to lawyers who specifically specialize in birth injury cases. Although a general practice lawyer may be experienced and competent, an attorney who deals exclusively in cases dealing with birth injuries is more than likely much more knowledgeable about brachial plexus injuries when compared to other types of attorneys.
Furthermore, when you find a birth injury attorney, you’ll want to make sure that they have a proven track, including successful brachial plexus injury cases. You’ll also want an attorney who is easy to communicate with and has no problems with keeping you in the loop with what’s going on with your case. Consider asking your potential lawyer the following questions:
- How many birth injury cases have you worked on and what is your success rate?
- What were the outcomes of the brachial plexus injury cases you’ve worked on?
- How much time can you dedicate to my case?
- Will there be open communication regarding my case?
Costs Associated With a Brachial Plexus Lawyer
With the mounting bills and care associated with a brachial plexus injury, many families are unable to afford an attorney during these trying times. Fortunately, most brachial injury lawyers understand this and will work with their clients on a contingency fee basis. A contingent basis simply means that you’ll pay nothing up-front for your attorney’s representation. When you win your case and receive your compensation, your attorney will then recover the fees.
It’s important to note that it’s a good idea to hire an attorney who offers payment on a contingency fee basis. Lawyers who require up-front payment may not have the financial backing needed to successfully take on a case as intricate as brachial palsy injuries.
How a Brachial Plexus Lawyer Can Help You
As just mentioned, lawsuits involving brachial plexus are extremely intricate and generally require the services of a knowledgable and experienced attorney to handle. Not only will a brachial plexus attorneys thoroughly research your case, gather evidence, and interview experts and witnesses, but they’ll also take on the important task of presenting your case to the defendant and working through negotiating a settlement.
Once the evidence has been gathered and the defendant has been notified of your lawsuit, your attorney, along with the defendant’s attorney, will enter into pre-litigation, most commonly known as the discovery phase. During this part of the lawsuit, an experienced attorney will work diligently in proving your case to the defense by showing them the evidence, witness and expert statements, and other pertinent information that helps establish the defendant’s liability.
During the discovery phase, most brachial plexus will resolve, and a settlement is reached. It’s often the most lengthy part of the lawsuit, but once it’s over and your attorney successfully reaches an agreed upon settlement, you can expect compensation for your case.
Should your case not settle during pre-litigation, the next step is for your attorney to prepare the lawsuit for trial. Although trials are rare in medical malpractice cases, they do occur, regardless of how infrequently. However, an open, communicative lawyer will keep you in the loop at all times so that if your case does need to go to trial, you have enough to prepare yourself.
Keep in mind that a brachial plexus lawyer cannot tell you the exact amount of compensation you’ll receive. While they may guess a ballpark figure, there is no way to tell you an exact figure. In fact, an attorney who promises you an astronomical figure or an exact amount of compensation should raise a red flag.
Since no two cases are the same, the final compensation amount isn’t known until the case is settled. Although you have the option to agree or disagree with the settlement amount, keep in mind that there should never be any promises of an exact amount.
Several factors go into determining the amount of compensation you receive, including the severity of the brachial plexus injury, the area of the body where the injury happened (the part of the brachial plexus nerves that were damaged), and costs associated with medication, physical and occupational therapy, and if applicable, surgery. In general, however, you can expect to receive compensation for:
- Medical costs, including past and future expenses
- Medication costs
- Physical and occupational therapy expenses
- In-home care costs
- Lost wages (if applicable), only if in relation to the medical care of the infant; for example reducing work hours or leaving your job to help care for the medical needs of your baby
- Emotional pain and anguish (although this may vary according to your state laws)
In some cases, punitive damages are also awarded. Punitive damages are a way to “punish” the defendant for willful and excessively reckless medical mistakes. Punitive damages in medical malpractice and personal injury cases will vary according to the state you live in, but most states mandate that the defendant must have known what they were doing was inappropriate and wrong, yet still participated in the negligent behavior. Your attorney should be able to provide you with more information on the punitive damages law in your state.